The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday termed as baseless media speculation that its chief Sharad Pawar may head the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said there are unsubstantiated reports in the media regarding Pawar taking over as the chairperson of the UPA.
"The Nationalist Congress Party would like to clarify that there is no discussion within UPA partners regarding any such proposal," Tapase said. "The reports appearing in the media seems to be have planted by vested interests to divert the attention from the ongoing farmers' agitation," he added.
Shiv Sena, NCP's ruling ally in Maharashtra, said anything can happen in politics, and expressed confidence that the former Union minister, who turns 80 on December 12, is capable of a bigger national role. Asked about speculation by a section of media that Pawar may replace Congress president Sonia Gandhi as UPA chairperson, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, "Politics is unpredictable. You never know what will happen next." Raut said Pawar has "all the capabilities" to lead the country. "Pawar has vast experience, knowledge of the issues before the country and knows "the pulse of the people", the Rajya Sabha member told reporters here.
"The Shiv Sena extends good wishes to him," Raut said, referring to Pawar's upcoming birthday. A senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister said he had asked around in the party about this speculation. "Nobody has any inkling about this," he said.